Tuesday, June 4, 2013

His First Week In Mexico

"MEXICO is nuts! haha Im in Puerto Vallarta for my first area and I live on a street called Sol. I cant remember the address of my house but it is the house with the green Mormon van parked outside of it. Its a tiny street so you should see it. We have like the nicest house on the street. For rent it only costs 150 US dollars a month. Isn't that crazy??? And its a 4 bedroom house! People are crazy here! They ride in the back of trucks and on top of cars and the motorcycle drivers are crazy! People drive their quads on the street everywhere. Ive seen three guys on motorcycles holding their baby in one hand and a drinking a beer in the other hand! haha And guys are driving around in their trucks with a bunch of people in the back holding guns. Its crazy here, but I love it. But Im safe. Im really big here. haha Most of the people here are really tiny haha. The people are incredible though. I already love them and they love me even though I don't speak really well yet. They are so friendly and the members are so nice. Where I am serving right now, there is a lot of poverty and people are living with next to nothing, literally, but when we come over to visit, they give us all the food they have even though they have very little. They are so kind and helpful. To give you and idea of the kind of places we are serving in I wrote down a street that we were yesterday, for you to look at on google. Its called Lazaro Cardenas or it might be Lazaro Cardenos haha I cant really read my handwriting very well but its one of those. Me and my first companion get along really well. He's a native but he speaks a tiny bit of english. He's way cool. Even though sometimes I don't know what he is saying we have a lot of fun haha so thats good. The work is a little bit hard here though because we aren't allowed to knock doors in Mexico. We only work with referrals, less actives, and members. If we want to have a lesson with an investigator we have to have a member present or else we cant teach them. It makes it difficult because it is hard to find members who can come because everybody works so hard out here to provide for their families because they don't get paid very much. So there aren't very many baptisms here right now because its mostly reactivating non active members. This week we weren't able to meet with any investigators because we couldn't get any members to come, but we got to meet with a lot of non actives. And another thing that is difficult is that we have a really large area and every body lives really spread out, and we have to walk, so sometimes we don't get to see very many people because we walk over to less actives houses and referrals houses and they aren't there. It can be frustrating, but I love it here."

"We only get real mail every six weeks from transfers because I am so far from Guadalajara. So if you send me mail, I won't get it very fast and I won't be able to respond very fast. I'm sorry. But I would still love to get mail! :)...You can't send mail or packages to my address at home. You have to send it to the mission home in Guadalajara...I don't get Dear Elders for every six weeks as well ... I will have pics of Mexico next week!! Every Monday is my P-Day."
-Elder Brinkerhoff 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Some More Pictures!!

Here are some new pictures that Joe was able to send us. Today (5/27/13), Joe flew to Guadalajara, Mexico to begin the next step of his journey! We are all so excited and proud of the progress he has already made. He seems to be learning the language very well and is stoked to serve the people in Mexico!!! :) I will post Joe's new address here shortly, on this blog, so you all can continue to write him letters or send packages!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

He Has His Visa!!

"I GOT MY VISA YESTERDAY!! My companion and I flew to Las Vegas yesterday morning at 5 am and got our visas!! We had to go to the Mexican consulate in Las Vegas, and then we flew back last night and got home at about 10 pm. It was a nice little break from the MTC haha I'm going to Mexico on Monday! Can you believe that?? I CANT! I feel like I don't know enough spanish still! haha but I am stoked to go! When I get home in 2 years, I might not be able to speak english very well haha I handed out my first Book of Mormon by myself yesterday while I was in the Las Vegas airport!! This little old lady came up to me and asked me who I was and I told her that I was a missionary and I explained the church a little and then she asked for a Book of Mormon and I gave her one and bore my testimony to her! It was sick! The spirit was super strong and I felt so good after. We as a group handed out 3 other Book of Mormons and this one couple was a young couple and we were talking to them and they weren't married yet so we bore our testimony on marriage and on how the gospel blesses families and how our church is all about families and how Heavenly Father gave us families so we can be happy and the guy started crying and we gave him a Book of Mormon! It was wild! The things you are able to do when you get set apart is amazing. The Lord really does work through you. I will be able to call you at the airport!!! :D woot woot! I can't wait! I will email you later today and let you know what time I can call you ok??
Te Amo Mucho!
Con Mucho Amor,

Su Hermano, Elder Brinkerhoff

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Another update with PICTURES!

"I am way excited that I only have 2 more weeks! The MTC has been fun but I'm definitely ready to get out haha I was pissed yesterday though because 6 kids in our class got their visas and are going to Idaho tomorrow to meet with some guys from the Mexican consulate and are getting to stay in Idaho overnight in a hotel.. I wish I was going. The 4 of us who are going to Guadalajara haven't gotten our visas yet. I hope I get mine in the next couple of weeks so I don't have to stay here longer... that would suck.. I LOVE BEING THE ZONE LEADER! It is so fun. I just get to go around and help people in our zone all day, and I am meeting tons of new people. The new district we just had come into the MTC is was cool and we are already all really close. I really like being the go-to guy for everybody in our zone. I like that responsibility a lot and our president says everybody looks up to me in the zone and that is a really cool feeling. It's cool to be able to lead by example and see how it effects the other districts in my zone. I feel like I have gotten a pretty good grasp on the Preach My Gospel but I definitely don't have it down yet. I don't think I ever will because there are always new things to learn. It's crazy...
Just stay strong and rely on the Lord as much as you can. You need to have COMPLETE faith that He will help. You can't doubt Him. You have to just rely completely on the Lord. The only way to make your faith stronger is by exercising it. It's like a muscle... the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. I want to challenge you to read the whole section on FAITH in the True to the Faith book. It's really great. I love it and it has helped me so much! That book is great. Read it and start using it as a guide. It has every subject in that book that you can think of. It's a great resource. I challenge you to really exercise your faith and that book will tell you how! I love you so much!
Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Joe Brinkerhoff"

Above picture: Joe is on the far right

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Zone Leader!!!!

So one thing about Joe, that some of you may not know, is that he is really into health and fitness. Not body building type stuff but eating healthy, non processed foods (for the most part). He doesn't even like candy really or soda. So this will explain his complaints about food in almost every email he has sent haha. He is used to being able to eat healthier, within his standards of eating, and then being able to go for runs whenever he felt like it. SO being at the MTC has been a big adjustment for him :) Here are some more updates I once again pulled together from different emails he sent us. Love my brother for making it so convenient :P

"So the MTC has been a lot of fun! but its been way hard too for me. There are a lot of days where I just wanna go home but there are more days that I am having a lot of fun though so that is good because the good is outweighing the bad. Im just trying to stay positive and focused as much as I can even though it can be way hard sometimes. Im also trying to remember that Mexico is going to be way better then the MTC haha...But the spirit is definitely always here at the MTC. It is a constant companion. Im learning a ton of stuff. Last night we had this thing we went to called the Training Resource Center where members of the church volunteer to just converse with us in spanish to help us learn to speak it better and me and my comp had an old man and this really cute old couple and his wife was from mexico and we had a lot of fun talking to them. The old men and the wife didnt want us to leave because they liked us so much haha I love old people. The old lady was like, "I hope my grand daughters find young men like you.". she was a way cute little old mexican lady. haha" 

"...man i miss you guys so much. Yes you can send me packages! as many as you want! but PLEASE only healthy snacks because the food they have here is so bad for you haha and i feel like I am gaining weight haha I hate the food here haha it sucks... you can send me other stuff to though if you want. like things i can put in my room or something."

"...I just have no time to write actual letters right now. I am trying though and I am writing little bits of letters here and there so it takes a lot longer. sorry. please be patient...literally every minute is planned...dont stop sending letters because i do get them and i love to read them. even if it feels like [you are writing to] a brick wall. dont stop. I am so much more busy now too because they just called me last week to be a zone leader! i am super busy all the time. so it has made it even harder than before to write letters. but it is a lot of fun being a zone leader. tonight i am meeting with 2 brand new districts in the MTC and teaching them about the MTC and giving them tours of the campus and teaching them the things in the white bible (mission handbook: rules and guidelines) and teaching them about the importance of companion relationships and serving each other. It should be cool :)
Love, Elder Joe Brinkerhoff"

Thanks for stopping by to read about Joe's journey! :) We couldn't be more proud of him!

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Email to Mom.

We have heard from Joe once again. :) He is working so hard and still trying to figure out how to manage his time writing emails and letters. Here are his updates that I brought together from the different emails he sent out. Mainly this is the email to my mom with added details that he sent in another email :)

"Hola Mama! I miss you and the family so much! everything is going good here. ive had some hard days though because ive been home sick and a couple days ago me and my companion had our first really bad lesson with an investigator and i got really upset with myself because i wasnt remembering how to explain the lesson in spanish like i normally and i kept messing up. i started to feel really useless and i was being really hard on myself because all the other companionships in my class had a really good lesson that day.. but the next day me and my companion killed it in our lesson with the same investigator and he said he would be baptized on the 18th of may and we made him cry because the spirit was so strong! that made me feel a lot better.
[Very great feeling to have a lesson go like that. That just shows you that its really the spirit that teaches lessons and not the missionaries. its very true. theres a quote that they say "teach people, not lessons" it means teach by the spirit and get to know them and teach them what the spirit tells you they need to hear even if it has nothing to do with your lesson that you planned because thats what they need to hear to come closer to God because ive learned that that is our main purpose as missionaries, just to bring people closer to God. whether that is by baptism or just by getting someone to pray. that is our purpose. everyone is unique and has there own things they need to hear to be converted to the gospel and to come closer to God. we spend alot of time getting to know our investigators so we can pray to know how we can apple our teachings to there needs in there life]
The mtc can be fun but i find myself getting homesick alot, thinking about what you guys are doing and sometimes i feel like im missing out but i just have to remember that its not me who is missing out its YOU guys ;) haha the mtc food is disgusting.. the cereal is seriously the best part.. haha and i feel like we are just like always eating even when we arent hungry.. because we are just sitting throughout the whiole day in class studying.. The MTC is really great though. The spirit really is always a constant companion here and it helps alot when im missing home and thinking selfishly.
Yo te amo Mucho Mama!
Love, Your son"

Although this email was written to my mom, he doesn't mind it being shared for others to read and get updates. Like I said, he is still trying to figure out how to write to everyone and manage his time well. More details to come soon!! Thanks so much for visiting this blog and reading Joe's updates! He truly appreciates your support :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

His First Email Home

We finally heard from Joe through email this morning. He seriously seems so happy and I couldn't be more thrilled for how much he has learned already! He is so awesome and I look up to him so much! I cant wait to hear again from him. I am taking from two different emails that were sent so some things might be briefly repeated...

"Yesterday, me and my companion (Elder Olsen) had to teach our first whole lesson to an investigator in espanol and it was only our second day! It was way hard! and went terribly haha But all the Elders who have been here longer said that everybodys first lesson sucks and that our teachers know that we are gunna suck and they just do it to humble us.. I was for sure Humbled haha Today we are teaching another lesson to the same investigator. We are praying this one will go better haha They speak spanish constantly. Barely any english is spoken in our classroom because it is supposed to help us learn through hearing it spoken all the time. I think it really works...
The bed isnt too bad.. I mean its kinda hard but i sleep really well here. i actually really like going to bed at 10:30 and waking up at 6:30. I feel like i got a whole lot more accomplished at the end of the day. My MTC companions name is Elder Olsen and he is actually way cool!...we are very much alike actually. Hes gunna be a good friend I can already tell. The food here is not that great.. but there are some healthier options here and there and i am able to workout every day."
"I am not able to upload photos here at the mtc so you will have to wait 6 weeks! haha lo siento. I dont have much time and i have a ton of emails! so ill just say i love the mtc and its going great! Im almost a [mexican] already! haha my companion is way cool and the food sucks! I miss you guys so much and i pray about you and for you everyday. Pray for me please. It is great here but it is still hard for me. Yo te amo mucho hermana. tell clayton i said i love him. and if i dont have enough time to email everyone tell  them what i just said to you :) verdad?
Love Elder Brinkerhoff"

Bummer we wont be getting pictures any time soon but hearing from Joe seriously is the best! He loves every one and the support he is receiving! Please send him letters! Keep praying for him! He truly is such an amazing missionary already :)